Al-Shabab has released the names of the attackers in the weekend mall siege in Nairobi, Kenya, and they include at least six Americans, two from Minnesota, one from Kansas City, as well as one each from Maine, Illinois, and Arizona.
The attackers sparked a two-day hostage crisis at the upscale Westgate Mall which has killed at least 68 and has fueled concerns about al-Shabab’s revitalization in the region, despite many, many times when they were predicted to be on the verge of defeat.
The attack is believed to be retaliation against Kenya for its military operations in southern Somalia.
Though the group’s rank-and-file are overwhelmingly Somalis, the attackers were predominantly ethnic Somalis from overseas, and mainly Western countries including not only the Americans, but Canadians, English, Swedish and Finnish citizens.
Journalists and their cameras have been moved and no longer have a clear sight of the mall, but can see its perimeter.
Gunfire and explosions have been heard throughout the day from the Nairobi mall where fighters are holed up, possibly holding a number of civilians hostage.
Three al-Shabab fighters have been killed and ten soldiers wounded in the military operation to end the standoff, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Interior Ole Lenku said on Monday.
“We don’t want to give you a definitive position on when we think the process will come to an end, but we are doing anything reasonably possible, cautiously though, to bring this process to an end,” Lenku told a news conference.
Black smoke was seen rising over the mall complex, two days after it was stormed by al-Shabab fighters. Lenku said the smoke came from a fire set by the fighters.
Television images on Monday showed troops in camouflage running to new positions, while an armoured personal carrier was also seen shifting position
“They’ve got a huge job to secure the premises,” a former officer in the British special forces regiment, the SAS, told Al Jazeera, adding that the operation would likely take another 24 hours. – Al Jazeera/antiwar.com